An artwork made from recycled materials. The piece is titled, "Gyre" and was created by Julie Kornblum.

“Gyre” by Julie Kornblum.
Photo credit: Diane Chehab

For years, artists have used discarded objects to create art.

Vickie Frémont is one such artist. Using items as humble as a used tea bag, she can create a whimsical masterpiece.

Fremont, a French/Cameroonian, teaches her “Recycled Art Program” in schools, senior centers, hospitals, and libraries. She was once invited by the French Cultural Services (Alliance Française) to lead workshops on re-using old plastic bottles, hangers, and more to create art. Even in shopping malls, people flocked to participate in her workshops.

Her life philosophy is that beauty can be found everywhere. It is a challenge to give a new life to what people call trash. As an educator, she believes that the progressive transformation of objects is a miracle, a “re-creation,” so to speak. She also notices that the activity, for many people, helps to restore self-esteem, as it opens a door into the unlimited world of creativity.

Her guiding emotion? “To keep a part of my childhood, and to center myself.”

Other artists are experimenting with found objects as well. Just recently, Ardina Seward, a former television cameraperson (one of the first women in this field and the first African American female photojournalist in the news broadcast industry) held an opening in the Bronx, NY, of her creations made with “found objects.” The show, titled “United Elements,” is still on display through the first week of September 2017.

But it’s not just the object itself, but rather the utilization of those materials that is unusual, such as the use of rust as both a color and a texture. As Ardina says in her artist’s statement: “Rust is a force that can change even the strongest metal. Yet, in the process, it creates a new image that is constantly changing. Rust is a living form of nature.”

And in San Francisco, Dianne Hoffman, a “mixed media collage and assemblage artist of recycled and salvaged materials,” creates window-box style pieces with a fascinating, yet rather dark, sense of humor. Several of her works are available at Secession Art and Design.

An art piece created from recycled materials. The piece was created by Diane Hoffman.

Artwork created from recycled materials. Artist: Diane Hoffman.
Photo credit: Diane Chehab.

Found objects find their way into fiber arts, too. A good example is “Gyre” by Julie Kornblum (California, USA), seen at the International Fiber Arts VIII Show in Sebastopol, California.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, as the saying goes.